California needs a plan..... A plan to manage the spiny lobster fishery!
I was recently selected to be one of 12 volunteer members of the "Lobster Advisory Committee" (LAC), working under the guidance of the California Department of Fish and Game. (DFG)
(Brace yourself: the TLRs (Three Letter References) are going to be sprouting like dandelions here.)
The full committee met for the first time today and learned that each of us has several jobs:
- Collaborate with the other members in evaluating the draft content of the Lobster Fishery Management Plan as it's developed.
- Gather and represent the informed viewpoints of our constituency in all committee actions.
- Commit to the full 4 year process, including 3 full-day meetings each year and regular email collaboration.
- Communicate frequently with our constituents, informing them of the planning process every step of the way.
Questions that should be Frequently Asked:
Q: "Is the California spiny lobster population currently in danger of overfishing?"
A: No. A recently completed Stock Assessment was peer-reviewed and accepted as correct.
It says the current population and annual catch is stable:
2-page summary: LINK HERE.
Summary: The results mean that ".... DFG is initiating a Lobster Fishery Management Plan process without having to contend with a resource that is being overfished, which is good news. No immediate management restrictions need to be proposed or implemented. DFG and its stakeholders will have sufficient time in the multi-year FMP process to develop appropriate harvest control rules for the commercial and recreational lobster fisheries.
22-page summary: BIGGER LINK HERE.
Full 138 page Stock Assessment: HUMONGOUS LINK HERE.
Q: "If the lobsters are doing OK, why is the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) creating a Lobster Fishery Management Plan?"
A: The California legislature passed the Marine Life Management Act in 1998. This mandates that marine life that's harvested by people in significant numbers must be managed for healthy sustainability based on best available science and knowledge.
Q: "What's in a Fishery Management Plan?"
A: An FMP is a planning document that contains all the necessary information to make informed decisions to sustainably manage a species while allowing harvest opportunities.
An FMP includes:
- Biological information about the marine resources under consideration
- Habitat needs and issues
- Economic and social factors related to the fishery
- An account of fishing activity
- Conservation and management measures already in place
- The ecological role of the resource
- The environmental effects that may have to be considered
- Fishery research protocols
- The most appropriate management tools for a sustainable fishery
- Procedures for amending the FMP to allow for possible adaptation in the future
Q: "How does an FMP get turned into regulations that are enforceable by the DFG Law Enforcement Division (LED)?"
A: The completed FMP is submitted to the California Fish and Game Commission for review, evaluation, revision as needed, and adoption of the final regulations described in the FMP.
The California Spiny Lobster FMP is scheduled to be completed and submitted in 2014 for implementation in 2015 .
I'll be chiming in here regularly, so stick around!